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Separation, Divorce and Financial Control

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Financial control can affect your decision to separate, and the timing of it, as well as influence the decision to start divorce, financial settlement and children law proceedings.

In this article, our family law solicitors look at how financial control can be very pervasive in relationship breakdowns and what you can do about it.

Online and London Family Law Solicitors

For specialist family law advice call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form .

Financial control

Financial control can be a form of domestic abuse. Although some people still think of domestic violence as being confined to physical assaults, that isn’t correct. The definition of domestic abuse has been extended to include emotional, psychological and financial abuse. Abuse can also be referred to as coercion and control.

Financial control can occur in many types of relationship and doesn’t restrict itself to those who are struggling financially with the cost of living crisis or to those who consider themselves either comfortably off or well off.

Whilst financial control is normally viewed as the preserve of men, women are also known to exert financial control, such as doling out pocket money to their partner whilst they keep the lion’s share of their partner’s earnings to not just pay for household essentials but also their ‘fripperies’, leaving their partner struggling with next to nothing to live on. Family law solicitors say that when it comes to financial control in a relationship, it is best not to make assumptions or believe that stereotypes are always accurate.

Am I am experiencing financial control?

Financial control can be hard to spot when you are living with it. It can start innocently enough and appear to be prudent financial planning and budgeting to safeguard your future. It can gradually move to:

  • Excessive control of spending so no financial decisions is within your own control
  • You are not consulted about any financial matters, such as choice of house or car or even purchase of items for your children
  • You are only given a small allowance and you have to account for all expenditure from your allowance
  • You have to ask permission before you can spend any money
  • You do not have access to a bank account

Sometimes financial control is more obvious, such as:

  • Insisting the family home is bought in their name and not jointly with you
  • Telling you that you are to sign remortgage or loan paperwork without giving you a chance to read the documents or to understand the reasons behind the debt
  • Spending your money, such as an inheritance or your income, but not sharing their own money or savings
  • Refusing to give you access to a joint bank account or card

Financial control can be invidious; starting small and slowly growing until you realise that you have no control over your life. You can end up feeling totally dominated and isolated and think you have nowhere to turn.


If your partner believes you are contemplating a separation, they may tell you that you ‘won't get a penny’ or that you won't get spousal maintenance or child support and that you won't get to stay in the family home. When someone sounds as if they know what they are talking about, it can be very intimidating, especially when they gloat that they have hidden assets and money and your divorce solicitor won't be able to find the money.

What can you do about financial control in a marriage?

Family law solicitors say that financial control in a marriage does not necessarily spell the end of a relationship. Much depends on how you feel about the control and the reasons behind it. If you don’t want to live with someone who wants to take on all the financial responsibility, and doesn’t see how their behaviour is affecting you, then counselling can sometimes help you both. If the financial control is such that you can't live with it, then there is legal support available, such as:

  • An application for a non-molestation injunction order to prevent coercion and control as well as other forms of domestic abuse
  • An application for an ouster order injunction so your ex-partner is ordered to leave the family home . This order isn’t intended to be a long term order but it is intended to keep you and your family safe until long term decisions are made about what should happen to the family home. An ouster order can be made even if the family home is owned in the sole name of your husband or your wife
  • An application for financial support to help you pay the bills – the court can be asked to make an order for temporary financial support or time limited or long term spousal maintenance
  • An application for child support to the Child Maintenance Service if you have dependent children living with you
  • An application for a child arrangement order - if your ex-partner is threatening that they want custody of your child, your children law solicitor can apply for a child arrangement order. You may think they want custody of the child because they want to exert control over you rather than because they think that it is in the child’s best interests to live with them
  • An application for a divorce financial settlement – this can include asking for an order for the sale or transfer of the family home or business as well as a lump sum order, pension sharing order and spousal maintenance

Online and London Family Law Solicitors

For specialist family law advice call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form .

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